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Bulgarian festivals and customs date back to ancient times when men tried to appease the natural elements and trembled before their power. Full of beauty, gaiety, mystical voices, fiery dances and brightly colored costumes - Bulgarian folklore has to be seen, felt and experienced!
Fire dancing is the most ancient mysterious ritual - barefooted dancers performing on burning embers. This religious and mystical ritual for expelling illness, for health and fruitfulness is one that must be seen to believe it.
The Festival of Roses is a
lovely festival celebrated in the Rose Valley near the town of Kazanluk (at
the foot of the Balkan Range) on the first weekend of June every year. The
festival is a pageant of beauty in the unique Rose Valley. In the run-up of
the event, a Queen Rose beauty contest is held in several rounds. Artists,
actors, circus performers, writers and singers flock to Kazanluk at the
start of June. The Bulgarian oleaginous rose yields 70 percent of the world's attar of roses
used by every perfume company as an essential component of its products.
Kukeri Carnival held in the region of Dupnitsa and Pernik is a splendid festival of brightly colored masks and costumes which marks the beginning of the spring. Every participant makes his own multi-coloured personal mask, covered with beads, ribbons and woollen tassels. The heavy swaying of the main mummer is meant to represent wheat heavy with grain, and the bells tied around the waist are intended to drive away the evil spirits and the sickness.
The Bulgarian voices are called to be mystery. Experts are still trying to explain the incredible range of the Bulgarian voice and the variety of songs. Its unique sound was universally acknowledged by the fact that the popular Rhodope song "Izlel e Delyu hiadutin" sung by the talented singer Valya Balkanska was recorded on a gold record and was sent as a message to outer space on the American spaceship Voyager in 1977. The world is discovering it again and again at major folklore and song contests in Italy, France, England and Ireland from which the Bulgarian music and dance ensembles invariably walk off with the first prizes.
The folk festivals "Pirin Sings" and Rozhen Sings are the best-known Bulgarian folklore festivals. Last year alone, some 150 000 visitors from Bulgaria and abroad came together to witness the show by the 4 000 performers on each festival. They came not only to see these inspiring events, but also to learn about the curious world of Bulgarian folklore traditions.
Applied crafts have gradually emerged from the narrow frame work of strictly
domestic life to become an art which breeds art: Bulgarian embroidery with
its intricate geometrical figures, Bulgarian rugs and carpets with their
vibrant colours, exquisitely painted Bulgarian ceramics, finely ornamented
Bulgarian fretwork and superbly fashioned Bulgarian jewellery.
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